I love our iron skillet. This is our second iron skillet. The first skillet was a wedding present but Julie didn’t keep it. Too heavy, too hard to wash. The dishwasher did bad things to the seasoning. But now we know better. We wonder which of our grandchildren will want it when we are gone? It will still function as a non-stick surface or assault weapon in 100 years.
From the factory the cooking surface was rough. I sanded the skillet with wet or dry sandpaper wrapped around a block of wood and lubricated the sandpaper with a drop of cooking oil to work the day we bought it. I ran out of patience before it was entirely polished but it was close. After that it was just years of scraping it clean with a metal spatula and cooking bacon grease into the surface. mmmm….bacon.
We cook eggs every day. We have made apple pie in it. We cook potatoes. Skillet chili. Pancakes. We fry steaks. On and on and on it goes.
How do we wash it? I don’t. I scrape it clean then cook a new layer of bacon grease in it, wiping it out with a paper towel. You really should use animal fat instead of vegetable oil as vegetable oil becomes sticky. Then we store it in the oven until next time. That’s it. I know, this won’t work in a commercial kitchen.
If the skillet has dried chili in it from the last meal (…ahem!) things are a little different.
I heat up the skillet then pour a little equally hot water into it. That boils off the bad stuff. Then I melt in a quarter-sized drop of bacon grease, scratch that around, wipe it out with a dry paper towel and call it good. BTW, if you use cold water in a hot skillet you will have a lump of cracked iron that is vaguely shaped like a skillet, not a skillet.
The sides of the skillet are never polished like the bottom is. You don’t scrape and scratch and chisel away at the sides like you do the bottom. That’s just how it is. If you cook in your skillet for years and years and years the outside will accumulate burned grease coating that is almost impossible to get off. Almost impossible. If you want to be free of the accumulation, throw your skillet in an outdoor fire. When it cools down, give it a little scrub, add some bacon grease and get cookin’ again.
One tip I think helps to keep the non-stick non-stick is to heat the skillet. I know, you people with your new-fangled teflon-coated aluminum skillets just pop the egg in and turn the burner on but these beauties, they need a little more time. Take a little bit to get the skillet warm before you pour in the egg. That instant sear on the bottom of the egg ensures it won’t stick. We usually put the skillet on the stove when we light the stove. By the time the fire is burning well, the skillet is warm enough to use.